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I quite often agree with Peter Hitchens, but as someone who attended AA many years ago and hasn’t had a drink since, nor wanted one. I am slightly uneasy about his position on addiction which he denies is a condition or an illness.

My own experience limited though it might be tells me that whether addiction is a condition physical or mental matters not at all and debating it is fruitless, and possibly damaging to the ‘addict’ .

I don’t think addiction is an illness although cirrhosis and emphysema certainly are.  It is a matter of honesty and strength of character. The first thing is to ‘know thyself’ not an easy or comfortable exercise, although like most exercise you do feel a lot better afterwards.

Categories: General
  1. November 15, 2015 at 10:34 am

    I think some folk have a propensity to become addicted to substances. Since doctors now prescribe medicines designed to suppress parts of the brain which promote that propensity, I think it is fair to call it a medical condition. Some ‘desires’ may well be chronic and not susceptible to self control. Of course, I may be wrong…

  2. November 15, 2015 at 10:49 am

    “…..I think some folk have a propensity to become addicted to substances…..”
    Certainly true. Northern Europeans have a problem with alcohol. You may have noticed this in Denmark ?
    However I think that just because people can be medicated out of a predilection doesn’t make it an illness.
    So I suppose I tend towards Hitchens view.

  3. November 15, 2015 at 1:36 pm

    Hi Jazz. I found this TED Talk quite interesting. I would be interested to know your thoughts.

  4. christinaosborne
    November 15, 2015 at 4:37 pm

    I have just watched the above and agree with every word.
    I saw my son for 8 years use medical heroin and be a total technical addict. I also saw him travel the world, continue his PhD, keep his friends, sit on charitable boards all at the same time. He refused to give up his life until the last three months in hospice.
    So then we took the party to him. We used to have drinks hour at 6 or so in his room. (The hospice didn’t like it too much) He lived more life in those 8 years than most people do in a lifetime.

    I rather object to the qualification of addiction as anything very much, it butters no parsnips! Obviously what we are doing now as a society is not working. Why not try an alternative approach? I suspect it would be of far more benefit to society to legalise drugs and put the cartels out of business. If some kill themselves they must do so. It is a free world, or should be! I so object to this nannying of humanity.

    I am a cigarette addict, I make it clear to all doctors that I will not tolerate carping on the subject and it is not within their hegemony. I pay them to keep me going for as long as possible in as good a state as is possible and when my lungs are finally shot I shall remove myself from this world on my schedule.at my convenience. If they are not happy with this then I chose my medical help elsewhere. I never smoke in other people’s homes, cars or public places to minimise inconvenience to others. All my friends know I will smoke in my home if they choose to come. It doesn’t seem to bother anyone, they still come! I do not tolerate conversations about giving up my ‘habit’ or ‘addiction’.
    It is nobody’s business but my own.

  5. christinaosborne
    November 15, 2015 at 4:40 pm

    jazz, I agree with your comment about Scandinavians having a predilection to alcohol. Have had customers in the past from there that seriously didn’t know when to stop! Quite a few of them.

  6. November 15, 2015 at 4:41 pm

    There are some holes in his argument. For instance he doesn’t talk about people wanting to get high or drunk and who keep on doing it over a long period ( years) needing more and more of the substance to achieve the same effect.
    If you made a group of people take heroin over a long period, not the few days he’s talking about, more of them would become ‘addicted’, and if you did it for long enough probably just about all of them would be .
    Anyway none of this matters to the afflicted, they’ve just got to stop, debating the nature of what ails them won’t help.
    However I entirely agree with Johan Hari about legalisation as in Portugal. Our system just creates more users and makes criminals rich.
    If we had never made Opium, Heroin and Cocaine illegal we wouldn’t have the problem we now.

  7. November 15, 2015 at 9:29 pm

    Sipu – I listened to the vidoe as well, and yes I mostly agree witht he punchline, the opposite of addiction is connection. Therefore I suppose you could argue, that addicition stems from an illness, but rather a psychological one than a physical one. Certainly TLC as the guy suggests will help, but you need to be very careful and experienced how to help, otherwise you make things rather worse. We had a friend, who became a chain smoker and heavy drinker after he lost his second wife during the honeymoon due to a brain tumor and even his third wife could not really help him. After all it is a big topic and individual cases bring different viewpoints to the subject. I am not sure, if total free access to any drugs is a good idea, but certainly the policy needs strong reform, which I understand is underway in the UK?

  8. November 16, 2015 at 5:25 am

    If people want to drink that is their concern, not mine. If people want to smoke, that is their concern, not mine. People worry so bloody much about nannying everyone and regulating everyone’s life that they lose the plot and don’t bother minding their own affairs! I have an extreme caffeine addiction. I can’t function without ungodly amounts of coffee and tea. My teeth are permanently wrecked — stained yellow, so badly, in fact, that multiple cleanings have only made a modest difference and that is gone within a week.

  9. Boadicea
    November 16, 2015 at 12:04 pm

    I watched the video – and can see some merit in what it says. But I think it is too simplistic.

    I think Jazz is right, there is no discussion about why people choose to become drunk, high, or to experience the effects of any other drug. Each case involves an individual and every choice is that individual’s choice. There is no one-fit-all solution.

    Quite clearly the present way of dealing with drug addiction is not working – so I cannot understand why we keep trying to deal with the problem the same way.

    Like Christina, I’m a cigarette addict. Unlike Christina I do smoke in other people’s gardens and in public. I do not smoke in other people’s cars or in my own home – but outside in our garden.

    I have an answer to those who condemn my habit. It is legal, indeed when I took up the habit it was almost compulsory. I’ve never heard of a nicotine addict starving their children to feed their habit, bashing a pensioner to get a cigarette, assaulting anyone under the influence of nicotine, or driving dangerously, Indeed, it seems to me to be one of the few drugs that does not affect one’s reactions. As to the cost of my addiction to society – as I said to my doctor recently, I pay an enormous amount of tax to more than compensate for the cost of my addiction to the health system – I probably subsidise the treatment of all those who injure themselves indulging in ‘good’ activities like playing sport, etc….

    Personally, I would like to see all drugs decriminalised. It would remove all drug dealers, and allow the police to concentrate on ‘real’ crimes. I’d like to see all those drugs taxed to the same extent that my drug is taxed – so that those who chose to partake of those drugs pay towards the damage they do to themselves and others.

    And I rather suspect that if these drugs were decriminalised – the whole idea of ‘breaking the law’ would disappear and fewer people would be tempted to take them.

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